IRI’s On-Premise Decision Suite Reveals Restaurant and Bar Volatility Continues Due to COVID-19

CHICAGO – IRI® shared on-premise data illustrating the highly volatile nature of food and beverage consumption at restaurants and bars, both nationally and on a regional basis, as compared to pre-pandemic levels. The analysis was derived from IRI’s newly launched On-Premise Decision Suite, a series of IRI solutions that create a holistic view of consumer behaviors at casual and fine dining restaurants and bars across food, beer, wine, spirits and non-alcoholic beverage categories.

IRI analysis from the On-Premise Decision Suite highlights market volatility in the restaurant and bar industry for Q3 2021 versus Q3 2019 and illustrates regional market forces that support – or suppress – on-premise recovery.

Total average spend nears pre-pandemic levels: Across U.S. casual and fine dining data, the total menu spend averaged on a per-venue basis totaled $679,000 in Q3 2021, almost reaching pre-COVID-19 spending levels of $690,000 in Q3 2019. The average California region spend far exceeded the rest of the nation at $918,000 per venue. With its less-dense population, lower cost of living and colder climate, the Plains region shows the lowest average spend of $497,000 for the quarter.

  • Recovery has been driven by the uptick in take-out and delivery of food: Consumer purchases of take-out and food delivery is down only 1.2% from pre-pandemic levels. In Q3 2021, temperate regions, including California, South Central and Southeastern states, have surpassed sales of food compared to similar sales in Q3 2019. But alcohol beverage sales from these same venues and across the same time period trail 19% compared to pre-pandemic levels.
  • Stark differences are seen in the Northeast versus California: The Northeast is lagging pre-pandemic levels in both sales of food (-14%) and even more dramatically in alcohol beverages (-33%). California, however, has seen food sales increase 6%, while sales of alcohol beverages remain down 6% compared to Q3 2019.
  • Recovery has been slower in certain regions: In the Plains, food sales are down 9%, while alcohol beverages are down 25%. In the Midwest, food sales are down 6% and alcohol beverage sales are down 24%; in the Mid-South, food sales are down 8% and alcohol beverage sales are down 29%.

“This data tells part of the story about strong areas for on-premise food and beverage consumption on a quarter-by-quarter basis,” added Boris Oglesby, executive vice president and practice leader for Alcohol Beverage and Tobacco, IRI. “However, there are many, nuanced, often non-intuitive trends that indicate pockets of opportunity for brands. These are the opportunities we are excited to help uncover and activate with our new On-Premise Decision Suite solution.”

Launch of IRI’s On-Premise Decision Suite

IRI’s new On-Premise Decision Suite is the first-to-market, POS-based projected tracking service for the on-premise marketplace, which allows for trending with data going back to Q1 2019. The suite includes three core features:

  • Tracking: Market measurement solutions that provide insights into category performance and share, including daily POS data, not available in any other solution
  • Diagnostics: Consumer panels, survey solutions and advanced analytics, enabling brands to understand consumer behaviors that drive sales changes
  • Activation: Mapping consumers to physical venues where they shop and enable activation with targeted buyer groups

“In the best of times, understanding consumer behavior at restaurants and bars is a complex exercise, and COVID-19 makes the effort vastly more complicated,” said Oglesby. “We took a closer look at consumers’ on-premise behaviors across the nation and found that recovery varies widely region to region. The Northeast is lagging the nation, while other regions have surpassed pre-pandemic sales. Since it is imperative to understand dynamics across the marketplace, our new On-Premise Decision Suite offers the industry’s most comprehensive view of behavior across key metrics, including market coverage, granularity of data and speed to insights.”

The suite enables brands to answer critical questions, such as:

  • What is my brand’s share in casual dining restaurants?
  • Which products does my competitor offer in on-premise venues?
  • Which consumer households offer the best opportunities for promotional activation?

To learn more about tracking and managing your business more effectively with the IRI On-Premise Decision Suite, please contact

Helpful Link

To learn more about IRI’s latest on-premise research, which shows vast differences in total menu, food and alcohol beverage spending at restaurants and bars across U.S. regions, check out the infographics available here.

About IRI

IRI is a fast-growing, leading provider of big data, predictive analytics and forward-looking insights that help CPG, OTC health care organizations, retailers, and financial services and media companies grow their businesses. With the largest repository of purchase, media, social, causal and loyalty data, all integrated into an on-demand, cloud-based technology platform, IRI is empowering the personalization revolution, helping to guide its more than 5,000 clients around the world in their quests to remain relentlessly relevant, capture market share, connect with consumers, collaborate with key constituents and deliver market-leading growth. For more information, visit